A Fine And Rare Flintlock Combined 54-Bore Box-Lock Over-And-Under Tap-Action Pistol And Sword
Lot 127
A Fine And Rare Flintlock Combined 54-Bore Box-Lock Over-And-Under Tap-Action Pistol And Sword
By H.W. Mortimer, London, Late 18th Century, Birmingham Silver Hallmarks For 1782, Maker's Mark Of Charles Freeth
£ 10,000 - 15,000
US$ 13,000 - 20,000

Lot Details
A Fine And Rare Flintlock Combined 54-Bore Box-Lock Over-And-Under Tap-Action Pistol And Sword
By H.W. Mortimer, London, Late 18th Century, Birmingham Silver Hallmarks For 1782, Maker's Mark Of Charles Freeth
With straight tapering fullered blade double-edged towards the point and secured by three screws on the left side at the breech, burnished spirally-fluted turn-off barrels, bright border engraved action (steel missing) signed 'H.W. Mortimer' within an oval against a martial trophy and foliage on the left side, the oval surmounted by two birds, and engraved 'London' within an oval en suite on the right, blued tap and thumbpiece safety-catch both engraved with a flower-head, border engraved ring-neck cock with blued top-jaw and screw, blued border engraved trigger-guard decorated with flower-heads and foliage, chequered swelling figured grip, silver knuckle-guard with border engraved facets either side of a central moulding and linked to the remains of a shell-guard secured by a screw on the right side of the action, and silver pommel-cap cast and chased with rocailles and foliage framing a grotesque mask, his mouth centred on the retaining screw, and retaining much of its original blued and burnished finish, in its original tooled black leather scabbard (some loss of finish towards the point, chape missing) with silver locket with frog-button and ring for suspension, London proof marks
64.9 cm. blade


  • Provenance:
    Sotheby's London, Nelson, The Alexander Davison Collection, 21 October 2002, lot 63

    Alexander Davison (1750-1829) first met Horatio Nelson in Quebec in 1782 and he was to remain a constant figure in Nelson's life until 9 January 1806 when, as one of the four principle members of Nelson's household, he broke his white stave of office to be placed on the Admiral's coffin as it was lowered into the vault of St. Pauls', where it remains to this day. Davison was of Scottish ancestry and built a fortune in Canada during the 1770s and 80s as a trader and shipowner during the American War of Independence. On his return to England he was appointed the Commissiariat of the Duke of York's army in Flanders augmented in 1795 by his further appointment as agent to the Barrackmaster-General to the British army, General Oliver De Lancey. This was an attempt to rationalize the arrangements individual regiments followed when requisitioning equipment. Davison recovered a fee of 2½% on all purchases a reward further enhanced when he purchased supplies from his own factories in Millbank and which helped finance the purchase of Swarland Park, Northumberland.

    Following Nelson's victory at the Battle of the Nile in 1798 Davison was appointed, by a unanimous decision of the Captains of the Nile but clearly sponsored by Nelson, sole agent for the sale and distribution of the prizes taken during the battle. As a result of this Davison decided to commission medals for all those who had served in the action at a cost to himself of £2,000 (the equivalent today of about £120,000). He also arranged for the production of the famous crocodile-hilted swords to be comissioned through the Royal goldsmiths Rundell & Bridge for the members of the 'Egyptian Club' established for the Captains who served with Nelson on the Nile.

    In 1798 Davison acquired a mansion in St. James's Square where in 1800, on Nelson's triumphant return to England, he hosted a banquet in his friend's honour, attended by the Prime Minister, William Pitt, four cabinet ministers and the Prince of Wales. By this time Davison held power of attorney and seems to have been almost entirely responsible for managing Nelson's financial affairs. In 1802 he sought election as member of Parliament for Ilchester, but was jailed for six months in 1804 for electoral fraud. Following Nelson's death on 21 October 1805 the various valuables recovered from the Admiral's effects were examined at Davison's house in St. James's Square. In the presence of Nelson's brother, William, recently ennobled as first Earl Nelson, and William Haslewood, the Admiral's solicitor, both executors of Nelson's will, the various 'Money, Coins in Lord Nelson's Pocket, purse & when killed' were inspected, recorded and then entrusted to Davison as treasurer. Nelson bequeathed his 'turkish scimitar, gun and canteen' to Alexander Davison. In 1807 a parliamentary committee was established to investigate irregularities in the Barrack-Quartermaster's accounts as a result of which Davison stood accused of falsifying purchase orders and receipts. He defended his business arrangements, which old General De Lancey recalled was agreed to insure supplies, and denied any falsifying of documents. However he was found guilty by special jury, ordered to pay £8,800 (about £500,000 today) and sentenced to twenty-one months in Newgate prison. On his release from prison he lived quietly in Brighton until his death on 7 December 1829
Auction information

This auction is now finished. If you are interested in consigning in future auctions, please contact the specialist department. If you have queries about lots purchased in this auction, please contact customer services.

Buyers' Obligations


If you have any complaints or questions about the Conditions of Sale, please contact your nearest customer services team.

Buyers' Premium and Charges

For all Sales categories excluding Wine, Coins & Medals and Motor Cars and Motorcycles:

Buyer's Premium Rates
25% on the first £175,000 of the Hammer Price
20% from £175,001 to £3,000,000 the Hammer Price
12.5% from £3,000,001 of the Hammer Price

VAT at the current rate of 20% will be added to the Buyer's Premium and charges excluding Artists Resale Right.

Payment Notices

For payment information please refer to the sale catalogue.

Shipping Notices

For information and estimates on domestic and international shipping as well as export licences please contact Bonhams Shipping Department.

  1. David Williams
    Specialist - Arms and Armour
    Montpelier Street
    London, United Kingdom SW7 1HH
    Work +44 20 7393 3807
    FaxFax: +44 20 7393 3932
Similar Items